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DMC impact expected to spill into Root River Trail towns

Fri, Nov 22nd, 2013
Posted in All Features

A crowd gathered at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, Minn. Monday evening to learn more about Destination Medical Center (DMC) and how it could have a positive effect on local economies. The nine towns that hosted the event belong to the Root River Bike Trail System Partnership, which includes Peterson, Rushford, Rushford Village, Houston, Preston, Harmony, Fountain, Lanesboro, and Whalan.

How will the major DMC expansion affect the tourist industry in these small communities? Could the large increase in job opportunities, expected to occur over 20 years, result in population growth in some of the communities?

Local citizens and business people, EDA representatives, and local government officials were given an opportunity to mingle and discuss the possibilities and implications at an informal social hour prior to the presentation given by John Murphy, Mayo Clinic Public Relations.

The event was promoted by Julie Kiehne, Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce. Murphy noted late in the evening that this was the first time this information was being presented to a tourism community.

Murphy has been with Mayo Health Systems for 15 years. He compared the DMC expansion to hosting the Super Bowl every year for 20 years or hosting two Olympics per year for 10 years. With the expansion there are huge economic opportunities as well as huge challenges.

DMC is a public-private partnership between the state, Rochester, Olmsted County, the southeast Minnesota region, and Mayo Clinic. The goal is to secure Minnesota’s future as a destination for health and wellness.

Estimates have been made that over a period of 20 years 35,000 to 45,000 jobs will be created due to the economic development initiative. More than half of the jobs will be outside of the Mayo system. It is expected that $7 to $8 billion of new state taxes will be generated over 35 years; 10 percent is to be turned back to support infrastructure improvements.

Murphy said the Mayo Clinic is the largest, oldest, integrated, not for profit health system in the world. The goal is to remain competitive globally, to be the world’s premier destination medical center. The process to develop the concept of DMC began several years ago. Legislation was approved in the spring of 2013 and the governance structure has been established. The Destination Medical Center Corporation is a statewide board appointed in part by the governor. It will have the authority to execute the development plan which will be written in the second half of 2014.

The Mayo strategy is to improve the patient experience. Patients often have four to five hours of free time per day. Appointments only require about 30 percent of the patient’s time. The DMC vision is to grow in seven core districts that should lead to greater patient satisfaction. For example, only 45 percent of patients surveyed were satisfied with the offerings in Rochester. Murphy quipped that in his experience, 45 percent is a failing grade.

The seven areas for private investment include commercial research and technology, retail, dining, entertainment, arts and culture, sports and recreation, livable city, learning environment, hotel and hospitality, and health and wellness. In addition to these seven areas, transportation issues need to be considered. These investments together will enhance the experience for patient-visitors. A private non-profit EDA will implement the DMC plan, tackling issues related to the seven areas of private investment plus transportation The EDA is not part of Mayo Clinic. Members of the EDA are not being chosen to represent certain interest groups, but are being chosen for their expertise.

Rochester now has about 2.8 million visitors per year. It is estimated that this number could grow to 7 million. Fifteen million people live within a half day drive of Rochester. It was interesting to learn that 80 percent of Mayo’s patients come from within 120 miles of Mayo Clinic. Eighteen percent come from across the United States and two percent are from international locations.

Murphy maintained in order to reach their goals they need creative thinking. The intention is to give patients options while they are here. Options for entertainment, shopping, recreation, and so on. Olmsted County has not been short on creativity as it is already the third largest issuer of patents in the world, most of which are related to medicine.

Community Input

This step in the process has just begun and it will continue until June 2014. In Rochester “idea posters” have been placed in the windows of the Massey Building downtown. Ideas gathered in this stage of the process will be used to put together a Development Plan. Murphy maintained that this is where your voices can be heard. He suggested that a community input session could be organized.

Murphy answered numerous questions. One gentleman asked about having representatives from trail towns on committees. Murphy said that he and Heidi Mestad, Mayo Clinic DMC Manager, could help get their voices heard. Mestad had been scheduled to attend, but couldn’t because of an illness. He suggested people could follow up with Julie Kiehne.

Murphy added there will always be a market for what you have to offer and that the DMC will have an impact on areas in southeastern Minnesota. He suggested that business owners that want to promote their business could get brochures to the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau. There is a brochure rack located in the Gonda Building to highlight things to do in the area.

Leaders for each of the seven core districts plus transportation are now being chosen.

The development plan will be written during the latter six months of 2014 and the project starts happening in 2015.

Go to for news. DMC can be followed on Twitter @dmcmn and Facebook. The social media and DMC blog is For questions or comments contact

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